First, someone revealed that Kasimir was the man who had killed Silence's wife, Melody. I am not entirely sure how this information came out, or how hard the GMs needed to push, but I know there were at least two vectors. Silence recalled the smell, I think, although why this had not happened before, I don't know. Perhaps Kasimir was too sick to mingle before. Second, someone may have received a vision. There was a potential third vector as well: Kasimir had kept Molody's god amulet. I don't know if he kept it out of guilt, as a tropy, as a curiosity, or what, but he was lucky the Leyanti never found that out.
Kasimir's side of the story, as I understand it, was that he was hunting one of the Leyanti's cats, or maybe had thought the cat a danger to him. When he attacked it, Silence and Melody assumed that he was attacking them, and he killed Melody in self defence.
Whether it was or was not self defense was an interesting question, but not the one Rushlight had. Kasimir had freely admitted his deed. Had he done so before he was confronted with the accusation?
He had not. Rushlight just shook her head.
Silence (pointing to Kasimir): Asumi!
Kasimir: I'm... sorry? I don't know what that means.
Reed: It is our ritual duel. It is also the first word that he has spoken in a Very Long Time.
This is why I don't think the GMs should pre-seed an asumi duel. If they had, we would never have gotten such a powerful moment. And things only built from there.
Now, despite his current name, Silence had not been written as a mute character. But, he was played by David Lichtenstein, who is a silent interpreter. So, he decided to play the character mute.
No one, at any point, said "Oh, he's playing it silent." David never mentioned he would. I assumed after the first couple of minutes that I'd forgotten the bit about muteness in my character sheet. Everyone else either did likewise, or quickly adapted. This was easy.
He communicated by short, sharp gestures, and we had no problem understanding what he was trying to convey. "Asumi" really and truly was the first word that he spoke all game. Two hours of silence made that resonate.
Reed: How many rounds?
Silence held up two fingers.
For the first of several times that evening, I asked, "Who is unbiased enough to drum for this?"
Asumi goes a variable number of 2 minute rounds, and there is a designated drummer, although others may also drum. After each round, R-P-S determines who adds one point for sheer physical prowess, while the drummer decides who adds one point for having the emotional / spiritual upper hand.
There were a couple of volunteers, but Silence pointed to Reed. Reed agreed, saying that he was an old man. I think the corrollary I'm forgetting is that he was therefore less prone to hot headed decisions.
We decided that we needed to widen the circle for asumi, so as to give the participants room to circle each other. This sometimes meant it was hard to hear the combatants, even though the drummers did their best to keep their part low. But, this one was easy to understand.
Silence spoke eloquently, about how once there was joy and companionship and music. Once there was love and companionship. Once he was not alone, and his companion was Melody.
There was more of this, though I forget the words. Kasimir tried to say it was an accident and that he didn't want to hurt Silence more than he already had.
At some point, the GMs indicated they should pantomime the fighting part. There was a sort of amused, awkward beat, and then both players did so. Cue the old Star Trek fight music.
Silence won after the two rounds, and threw Kasimir to the ground. Kasimir said that he would leave.
Silence: If I ever see you or scent you again, you are mine!
At that point, Nat Budin, who played Kasimir, left the room, then returned to play a Leyanti cat. As the GMs later explained, his character questionnaire said, "I like characters with enough rope to hang themselves, and not enough wisdom not to do it."
Well. One stranger had been dealt with -- and was luckier than we knew to have escaped with his life.
Rushlight then spoke for Anders, saying that she had taken him to see the seventh god, that he had been cursed, but the seventh god had removed the curse of bloodlust, and that he would leave if his presence endangered so much as a single Leyanti. That last was a bit of hyperbole that Rushlight soon regretted -- but it was the essence of Anders.
Rushlight spoke with Shaman's Word. Mechanically, this meant that her word was final, and the matter settled -- unless three or more Leyanti objected, in which case it could be reopened. I think two objected, Redcrest and one other. Rabbit said that Anders would need a cat, and that he would take Anders to meet the cubs tomorrow.
Nightshade's player had planned to use Chief's Word, which would have required four or more Leyanti to reopen. I think it was good that she did not.
For, Redcrest now revealed why she was so opposed to Anders' presence. The Chief was carrying his child.
Nightshade: How did you know?
Redcrest: You cannot hide this from the Earth.
And Redcrest, of course, was an intiate of Earth. The pregancy was a surprise to Rushlight.
For any not keeping score here: This is what I mean about complicated sexual politics making for good plot. The chief was not a native born Leyanti, but had proved herself. But, her child was fathered by a stranger. What did this mean for the future of the tribe? How could this not be a threat?
Nightshade argued that it meant nothing ill. Her child would be raised Leyanti from the beginning. And Anders vowed never to leave her side.
Redcrest seized on this, of course. He had sworn to leave if he endangered so much as a single Leyanti. He had sworn never to leave Nightshade. How could he possibly keep both vows?
Anders: There is only one way. I will never endanger a single Leyanti.
He told of how he had fought beside the Leyanti shaman. He told of how he had learned that without death, life chokes on life. He said that he was of the Leyani.
Redcrest argued otherwise. Anders stood and walked over to where she sat, standing over her.
Rushlight was worried, but at this point, the matter was no longer in her hand. Reed tried to dissuade Anders.
Reed: Are you sure? You do not have to do this.
But, it felt so right.
I forget who drummed, but Ander specified two rounds. After checking the characters abilities, the GM narrated the combat. Redcrest seemed to be winning easily, but then Anders looked on the Nightshade and fought like he had never fought before. It was not enough.
Yet, even though she had won, Redcrest was subdued. I don't know whether it was a case of someone putting up a respectable fight, yet not being so obnoxious enough as to win, or whether Redcrest sensed Anders' inner core, or whether it was something else. Their conversation was quiet, and even though I heard it all, I cannot remember it now. I do remember Rabbit asking if he were still taking Anders to meet the cubs the next day.
Redcrest: That is not for me to say.
And there was another brief respite. During this time, Bluebell challenged Fox to a single round of Asumi, which she won. She was trying to determine which god to dedicate herself to, and she challenged Fox to see if Hunter, Fox's chose, was the worthiest. This may seem somewhat anticlimactic after the earlier challenges, but it not only provided a respite from the more weighty ones; it also showed that asumi duels need not be acrimonious or fueled by hate.